Since its creation in 1992, the Premier League has been considered to be the best soccer league in the world. With so many top English teams with the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool Arsenal and more recently Tottenham Hotspurs and Manchester City, the premier league is loaded with top teams.
These teams are loaded with talent and depth, making them formidable opposition domestically and in European competitions. However, in recent years, the premier league has looked weak and could possibly be slipping from the reigns atop of European soccer. Poor form and bad results make these top sides less daunting than their four and five star ratings in FIFA video games make them out to be.
The easiest place to start picking out weak spots in the Premier League is Liverpool. The reds have struggled in the past decade or so both in domestic competitions and in Europe. Liverpool hasn’t won the league since 1990, and their European form has not been what it used to be. One of the greatest clubs in the world isn’t even competing in Europe this year and hasn’t participated in the Champions League since 2009-10 when they failed to make it out of the group stages. The Merseyside club used to dominate Europe, winning the Champions League in 2004-05 and finishing as runners-up in two of the next three years.
The two Manchester clubs have not had much success in Europe either in recent years. United have not progressed past the first knockout round in each of the last two seasons, and failed to make it out of the group stages two years ago despite being drawn an extremely easy group. United are considered to be England’s most successful club, but have only beaten fellow English side Chelsea in a European final since their treble winning season of 1998-99. City are relatively new to the European scene, but with the stars they’ve brought in, they’ve greatly underachieved. The Noisy Neighbors have failed to make a quarterfinal in Europe despite participating in each of the last four years. City has been drawn into the “group of death” in the Champions League in 2012-13 and 2011-12, but have failed to rise to the occasion and defeat big European clubs. In last season’s Champions League, City failed to win a single match.
London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham have had similar troubles in Europe. Despite qualifying for the Champions League for 14 consecutive years, Arsenal have not won the competition once, and have failed to reach the quarter-finals once since 2009-10. Tottenham have suffered a similar slump in Europe. Spurs have missed out on the Champions League in each of the last three years, and have failed to impress in the second tier of competition, the Europa League. Spurs were knocked out by lowly Basal (who has defeated Chelsea and Manchester United in recent years) in the quarterfinals last year. The loss to the Swiss champions marked their furthers progression in a European tournament since their improbable run to the quarterfinals of the Champions League in 2010-11 when they were blown out by Real Madrid 5-0 on aggregate.
Chelsea has had the most success in Europe of all the English sides, but it’s nothing to gloat about. Despite being backed by Russian billionaire Roman Abromavic, Chelsea failed to make it out of the group stages of the Champions League. Their third-place finish placed them in the Europa League, where they managed to get by inferior competition and wind up in the final. Chelsea disposed of fellow Champions League dropout Benfica in Amsterdam winning 2-1. The victory in Europe’s second tournament was a far cry from their Champions League triumph the year before. Chelsea defeated Bayern Munich on their home field to win their first ever Champions League.
Since the turn of the century, only two English sides have won the Champions League. One of which, came against another English side when Manchester United defeated Chelsea in Moscow in 2008. Chelsea’s win in 2011 defied all odds. It’s hard to believe that a top English side would be such heavy underdogs in any matchup.
Germany has managed the same number of triumphs in the Champions League since 2000, including Bayern Munich’s win over fellow German side Borussia Dortmund just last year. In the same year, no English team made it to the quarterfinals and the two semifinal match-ups comprised of two Spanish and German teams.
Italian clubs have won three Champions League titles in that same time period (two by AC Milan and one by Inter Milan), while Spanish clubs have won four titles (three by Barcelona and one by Real Madrid.)
Out of the four “big” European Leagues, England has finished last in terms of Champions League victories. It’s not only that these clubs from other nations are beating English sides, but they are outplaying the best teams in England. Barcelona simply outclassed Manchester United in 2011 in London and Rome two years prior. Premier League-favorite Manchester City was embarrassed at home by Bayern Munich in the group stages of the Champions League this year. Arsenal suffered a similar fate at the hands of Borussia Dortmund losing 2-1 at home, despite their hot start to the domestic season.
Many cry out at the lack of homegrown talent for the recent demise in English soccer. However, that’s an issue for another day.